This Material Culture

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Necklaces are my go-to accessories for any outfit. Most (if not all) of the necklaces I own are quirky pendants, and I’m always on the look out for more, so when I came across This Material Culture at a café in town, I was ecstatic, but choosing from their range proved to be too difficult for an on-the-spot decision for me, so I snatched a card and went to browse their selection online.

This Material Culture is comprised of husband-and-wife team Rebecca and Sam last year. They’re Liverpool based, and produce hand-made, unique, quality pieces of jewellery (for both men and women) for brilliant prices. Their instagram gives a good insight into the effort, thought and originality going into their pieces. I’m all for supporting local small businesses, so I was eager to get a new necklace from them.

I ended up settling on their adorable T-Rex necklace. I love dinosaurs and had yet to add any dinos to my jewellery collection, so when I spotted him I knew he was the one. I was lucky enough to get a chance to suggest him for a flash friday sale when they asked over on their twitter, and with postage at only £1, there was no way I was going to wait. He didn’t take long to get sent on his way, and I was pleased to even have them tweet me letting me know that he was dispatched, and later asking if he’d arrived yet! It really makes you feel secure in what you’re buying to know that the people behind the products care so much.

The actual necklace is lovely. It’s small and simple, quirky and elegant. The chain is lightweight and the charm is small enough that the whole necklace is slim and doesn’t feel awkward and chunky. I’ve been wearing it for the past few days, and have gotten a handful of compliments on it already. It sits just below the collarbone, so it looks good with lower-cut tops or T-shirts.

I wanted to show where about the charm falls, so please ignore my pyjama top.

I wanted to show where about the charm falls, so please ignore my pyjama top.

The company does a lot more than just necklaces, there’s bangles and earrings as well as sets and collections of jewellery, with designs ranging from adorable and quirky to absolutely nerdy. I would definitely recommend anybody looking for some cute, special jewellery for yourself or somebody else to give them a look. They’re a great couple of people and I’m totally enamoured with their style. And if you’re in Liverpool, keep a look out for them at events around town!

As well as the aforementioned website, Instagram and Twitter, you can also find them on Facebook.

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Am I Reading Right?

Recently, my friend Amy wrote this humorous blog post about being an English Student. As an English student, I loved it. It’s not very relevant to what I’m planning to discuss in this blog post, but it’s been on my mind since I read it, and it sparked the train of thought that led to this blog post. Well, that and the fact that I hadn’t made one for a while.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my English degree. I love to write. I’ll probably try to do that until I keel over. That’s also not what this blog post is about, though. This blog post is about reading.

Undoubtedly, a love of reading is what lead to my passion for writing. When I was little, I shared a room with both of my sisters. My baby sister had her own bed (it’s a bed in my head, but I suppose it’s possible it was a cot, or, more likely, a cot then a bed), and my older sister and I had bunk beds. I was on the bottom bunk. My mum used to read to us every night, and I, on the lower bunk, was right beside her as she read. It wasn’t just picture books, though (though we definitely had those, too, as Where The Wild Things Are is a family favourite), I distinctly remember her reading us The Chronicles of Narnia. We had one of those beautiful big collections with the gold ribbon bookmark and the gorgeous pictures. The Magician’s Nephew was (is) my favourite.

When I started school, English immediately became my favourite subject. I wrote a lot of stories, but I also read a lot. My favourite books were The Secret Garden and The Famous Five series, because I got a lot of my books from my Nana and they were things her or my mum had owned as children. I fell in love with reading. It’s a cliché I don’t need to expand upon. I read for pleasure pretty much every day.

Now, reading for pleasure requires time that I no longer find I have. Bookshops are still safe havens I creep to at any spare moment, but my pile of To Read is growing and growing and it shows no signs of getting any smaller. All of my time is eaten up by reading I have to do for my degree, and when I get home from University at the end of a long day and I’m mentally exhausted, it’s hard to focus my brain enough to pick up another book. I feel guilty about it. I should be reading these, I’m an English student.

I spent a week not so long ago smashing through book after book, and then I came to a sudden stop as coursework deadlines loomed and my reading for class piled up. I’ve got a half-finished copy of Heap House on my bedside, and I’m desperate to get through it so I can make a final decision as to whether or not I liked it (I’m on the fence. There’ll undoubtedly be a post about it whenever I manage to get it read). All of the possible reading time has been eaten up with weekly Shakespeare plays, novels/plays/short stories/poems by various Irish writers, and a toss up between a novel, a collection of poems, or a variety of weighty theoretical essays. And that’s only my literature models. When I’m not reading, I’ve got prep work to do, and when I’ve not got prep work I’ve got coursework, and to top it all off my exams start in less than a month. Free time? What’s that?

I felt guilty about my To Read pile. It was a source of shame for me. I felt like I should keep it a secret (perhaps if I had an attic I could lock it up there?), but then I realised… why should I? I have a lot of things I’m excited to read. They’ll get read over Summer, and I’ve been reading every day. Why should my reading for class be any less valid? So what if it’s not fiction? So what if I’m reading a chapter of a language textbook on pragmatics than a chapter of a YA novel? Why is Orlando less of a valid read than Under My Skin, just because I’m reading it for university? It isn’t. I’m still reading every day. Those words count.

That sort of got me thinking about the other ways in which people have this stupid idea of “proper” reading. There are people (and I’ve a couple of these people in my classes) that will tell you that Harry Potter isn’t “proper” reading, like Wuthering Heights. There are people that seem to think that new books, and children’s and YA novels don’t “count” like “classics”. You know what? They’re wrong. You want to know a secret? I didn’t really like Orlando anyway. It’s okay to not like books everybody is telling you are great works of fiction. My partner can’t stand The Catcher in the Rye, and you know what? I don’t even blame her. I can see quite clearly why someone couldn’t enjoy it.

That’s not to say that if you enjoy classic books I’m criticising you. The point I’m trying to make is that it doesn’t matter what you enjoy reading as long as you enjoy reading it. And that no matter what you’re reading, it all counts as reading. Don’t feel guilty about not reading as much if you’re busy – whether, like me, you’re busy reading other things or not. What you read, and how much you read, is completely up to you. Just make sure you’re having a good time.

This blog post was written to distract myself from the anxiety brewing in my stomach at the UK 2015 Election Exit Poll. It’s sort of a mess of thoughts. Sorry about that.